Mangaluru, Jan 11, 2020: Alleging that the violence in Mangaluru during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest last month was triggered by police high-handedness, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday demanded that a House Committee be set up to probe the matter. The December 19 violence had left two dead in police firing.
The JD(S) leader released 35 video clips challenging the Mangaluru police’s version of the sequence of events and showing them “harassing” and rounding up bystanders and students not part of the protest. Mr. Kumaraswamy said that the Mangaluru City Police Commissioner, P.S. Harsha, and other senior police officers should be immediately suspended. “They should be held responsible for the violence. I will table all the videos in the Legislative Assembly for discussion,” he said.
Mr. Kumaraswamy alleged that police fired without any provocation, even before any law and order problem or the Commissioner’s order. “The police did not lathi-charge those who were shouting slogans, but beat up innocent bystanders. They even beat journalists, despite them showing their ID cards,” he said.
He also pointed to discrepancies in the narratives of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Mr. Harsha on why the police opened fire. “While the Chief Minister claimed that the police station was attacked, the police claimed the protesters were near a shop. The police station has a 360-degree camera. Did the camera not capture the alleged attack?” he asked, demanding the release of this footage.
Terming the police version a “cock and bull story”, he said, “The police now say that protesters held meetings two days prior to the incident and conspired to instigate violence. If they knew about it, why did they not arrest them?”
Chastising the government for withholding the compensation announced for the victims’ kin and also planning to seize properties of the protesters, Mr. Kumaraswamy said, “Your BJP workers protested in Hubballi when Jagadish Shettar was not made Minister. They also set fire to buses. Why did you not think of seizing their properties then?”
Mr. Kumarswamy disputed the footage released by the police and said it was only an edited version. “The police video shows an autorickshaw transporting sacks of stones, projecting that the violence was well-planned. But the fact is that that auto was transporting debris from some under-construction building,” he said, releasing a set of video clips related to it.
“Former Supreme Court judge Gopal Gowda was not allowed by the police to hold a Janata Adalat in Mangaluru. A senior journalist, who was part of the Janata Adalat team, was also denied permission to speak to presspersons in a hotel room. Why are you turning Mangaluru into Kashmir?” he asked.
Questioning why violence had erupted only in Mangaluru when protests against CAA were held across the State, he said, “This was clearly a police-sponsored violence. The two deaths were murders by the State government,” he said.
What the clips show
The 26.06-minute video with 35 clips shows students and other bystanders, including journalists, being beaten by the police, purportedly without any provocation.
One of the video clips shows a senior police officer asking his colleague to aim at the protesters’ private parts. There are also clips showing the police beating up street vendors, people waiting for buses, and students. The police are seen forcibly downing the shutters of many shops, firing teargas shells and apparently getting ready to fire even before the Police Commissioner’s order.
Some clips also show stone-pelting by protesters and tyres being burnt. Another clip shows a Muslim youth trying to bring the situation under control.